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Posted January 19, 2014 by Sydnie Jones in Editorials
 
 

Matt “The Immortal” Brown is Not Sorry; Media Doesn’t Know the Definition of “Apology”


Legit Man Shit, Immortalized

In the MMA world, UFC welterweight Matt “The Immortal” Brown’s opinions on women’s MMA are by now essentially infamous. But in case you missed it, he and a couple of  his bros sat down on his totally cool podcast, ‘Legit Man Shit,’ and he waxed philosophic on the entertainment quotient he’s determined women’s MMA has, and how promoters might improve it to appeal more to men like him. The podcast has since been edited to remove the offending part, but the internet, in its infinite foresight, transcribed the comments for posterity:

The whole fight we have women in one room, men in another room. Rousey and Miesha come on and all the women just fucking gather around the TV like it’s the fucking Kardashians coming on. (source)

I always said, ‘I don’t know why they put women in the UFC.’ Now I know why.

I just think this, if I’m [going] to pay $60 for a Pay-Per-View to watch women fight they should at least be topless.”

It’s not really my thing. I respect what they do, but look, they don’t have the body type or the power – all that s–t – for knockouts. If you’re not a good grappler in women’s MMA, then you’re behind. It’s no different than the 125 (pound) division of men’s MMA in that they’re just really not built for knockouts. (source)

First, let’s tease out the implications of what Brown is saying.

The whole fight we have women in one room, men in another room. Rousey and Miesha come on and all the women just fucking gather around the TV like it’s the fucking Kardashians coming on.

Matt Brown seems to think that women, by default, go nuts for the Kardashians. I can vouch that this is indeed not the case, as I am a woman who does not flock to the television as soon as a Kardashian enters the frame, and most women I know don’t, either. Now, if a woman does love the Kardashians, there’s nothing wrong with that, but vast generalizations as a conversational expedient are lazy and insulting. And that’s before we even consider the disdainful connotative quality his words hold for the Kardashians (or their shows) themselves, as though enjoying them is something that a) only women would do, and b) is therefore something about which to be embarrassed.

Of course, what’s most obvious here is the personal hurt Matt Brown feels from his perception that the women around him appear to care solely about other female fighters – not the rest of the UFC, including some who have been or could be opponents of his. Excluding, I’m guessing, the interest the women around him have for his fights; I’m sure they’re very interested in those. Essentially, Matt Brown is butthurt because he thinks women don’t care enough about his career and its tangential elements. And if that’s not the case, then the alternative is that he’s mocking their interest in MMA, period, which seems short-sighted to me, but would certainly be in keeping with his apparent ‘MMA is for men only’ worldview.

Also, where is the surprise here? After twenty years, women are finally permitted entree into the biggest MMA promotion in the world. This is brand new territory for the most famous promotion in a sport still at the periphery of the mainstream. For many women, this is the first time they’ve ever been introduced to women fighting MMA; it makes sense that they’re likely to be more naturally intrigued by women doing something that has historically been, oh, I don’t know, legit man shit? Arguably, it’s a sport that inherently (if unintentionally) discourages women who identify primarily with traditional, conventional, and/or stereotypically feminine traits/self-conduct/interests from engaging with – there hasn’t been much effort to appeal to female audiences. So why does Matt Brown find this sudden interest so incomprehensible/ridiculous/laughable?

I always said, ‘I don’t know why they put women in the UFC.’ Now I know why.

According to Matt Brown, the only reason to put women in the UFC is to attract female viewers. It’s the only possible reason, in Matt Brown’s mind. Never mind it might’ve had something to do with equality, exposure, greater understanding, assuredly a greater appreciation for the skill and talent of women MMA fighters – in addition to the marketability, certainly. This is Not Okay with Matt Brown, because nobody asked him:

I just think this, if I’m [going] to pay $60 for a Pay-Per-View to watch women fight they should at least be topless.

This is really the crux of the issue. Who gave these women permission to fight in the UFC? Who was consulted? How dare these women enter into the legit man realm absent a survey seeking approval? Did anyone even consider the idea they should be topless? This is obviously a sexist statement, or joke, as Matt Brown’s wife insists, but it’s important to articulate why.

Matt Brown makes it clear that women can’t be taken seriously as fighters, and the only real draw they provide, the only thing Matt Brown is willing to shell out for when it comes to women in the UFC, is boobs. His statement dehumanizes and objectifies female fighters, turning them into digitized sexual objects for male purchase and consumption. It’s all they’re good for. Hahahaha, what a delightful joke.

It’s not really my thing. I respect what they do, but look, they don’t have the body type or the power – all that s–t – for knockouts. If you’re not a good grappler in women’s MMA, then you’re behind. It’s no different than the 125 (pound) division of men’s MMA in that they’re just really not built for knockouts.

Uh, if you’re not a good grappler and you’re in MMA, you’re behind, period. Even Cyborg is a good grappler. And of course, here is Lucia Rijker hitting harder than a male Olympic boxer her same height and weight. Additionally, Matt Brown thinks 125 pound men are basically women, and all that is necessary for a KO is weight. But  others have discussed the inaccuracy, irrelevance, and absurdity of that part of his statement, so let’s move on to his ‘respect.’

Matt Brown claims that he respects “what they do,” – which is what? demonstrative capoeira matches? because to Matt Brown, it’s obviously not MMA – but there is literally no reason to believe him. Not during the podcast, and not from anything he said afterward. His ‘respect’ exists in an ephemeral state of hypothesis, unable to progress to a theory provable by others, and any claim of which now lives only in these quotes.

When people respect something, it typically doesn’t occur to them to minimize, mock, and belittle it. But so often, sexist remarks are treated with kid gloves. Imagine if he’d instead made similar comments about fighters of color, changing the details to suit – the outrage would be absolute and wouldn’t waver. But when Matt Brown makes sexist comments, it’s possible that everyone else is just blowing it out of proportion, because it was a joke so people should chill out (who are probably just “hippy liberal do gooders” jumping on a bandwagon), and here Ericksson Lau compiles a lists of stats in support of Matt Brown; obviously, if what he’s saying is accurate, it means the rest of what he’s saying should be forgivable(?). Who the fuck cares if he’s right about current KO rates in WMMA? Sexism is as real and as damaging as all other forms of oppression – racism, homophobia, classism, etc – and yet our culture is far more forgiving of it. Like Matt Brown’s comments, it’s a reflection of how seriously women are often likely to be taken.

And further, let’s get something straight. It absolutely does not matter what Matt Brown thinks about the viability of women in the UFC, because, as evidenced by the view counts, women in the UFC is a runaway success.
Apologizing 101

The UFC was quick to issue a statement unaccompanied by any type of penalty, claiming that Matt Brown had apologized to them – because, really, they are the offended party here, I guess. Or did they mean he’d apologized to the ether? If so, there’s no record of this. Instead, one of the largest mainstream UFC news outlets, Fox Sports, released what they call Matt Brown’s apology:

I have spoken with the UFC about the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy and what is required and expected of me as a professional athlete under the terms of my promotion agreement. The UFC has a policy of inclusion and respect for all people and I understand the importance of being more aware of my actions and words.

Many other sites picked it up, also calling it an apology. It’s not an apology. It’s not even a non-apology apology. It’s a mealy-mouthed statement, akin to a child acknowledging that they know they did something his/her parents think is wrong.

Here’s a non-apology apology example I give Matt Brown permission to use: “I’m sorry people were offended by what I said. My wife says I was just joking.”

Here is a translation of Matt Brown’s attempt at diplomacy: “Upon actually looking at the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy, I see now that when I want to make ill-conceived sexist jokes, I should not do it in a forum open to billions of people, several of whom care about what I have to say.”

Here is an actual apology I give Matt Brown permission to use: “I’m sorry I made those comments, I’m sorry they hurt people, and to the people personally hurt, I’m sorry I hurt you. I understand that, as a representative of the sport, it’s of the utmost import for me to be conscious of the effect and influence of  my words. When I think of my own daughters’ future careers being reduced to their appeal to men, I feel sickened. I understand the gravity and repressive nature of sexist comments. I also apologize to Ronda Rousey, who doesn’t know who I am, and Miesha Tate, for maligning their Fight of the Night fight and reducing their skill, talent, and effort to their potential use as sex objects.” Except he doesn’t have any daughters, and so perhaps has never had to consider what his daughter’s futures might look like in a world where their dad ‘jokes’ about women MMA fighters being useless unless they’re topless.

Matt Brown made no public apology. He didn’t even mention the entire fiasco on Twitter, instead reporting on how excited he was to go see Lone Survivor, how he was about to leave for Afghanistan, and just to drive the point home how much Matt Brown Doesn’t Give a Fuck, he retweets Jeremy Loper about the new Legit Man Shit podcast. His wife seems to be far more bothered by this than he is, as he can’t be assed to actually apologize in any public forum.

He really couldn’t say how much he doesn’t regret his comments any louder, unless he actually came out and said, “I don’t regret what I said, I was just playing nice so the UFC wouldn’t can me.”

At the beginning of the first Legit Man Shit podcast, we hear a stern warning from Jeremy Loper that “… if you are weary(sic) of man shit, if man shit kinda makes you a little nervous, now would be the time to step the fuck out, all right? Stop this podcast.” If ‘legit man shit’ means sitting around making fun of women, I question Matt Brown’s understanding of the idea of legitimacy, because the legit men I know not only don’t do that as a hobby, they actively speak out against sexism and the objectification of women.

I doubt Matt Brown is a terrible person. He’s probably not out there taping kittens to sidewalks or anything. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say maybe he’s not even sexist! Nevertheless, it’s possible for anyone to say sexist, or racist, or homophobic, or transphobic things, and Matt Brown said some hella sexist things. But apparently, he’s protected enough by his own privilege that it never occurred to him that, as a public figure with a career to maintain, he should think twice before saying sexist things on record, to be broadcast to the entire internet.

That same privilege is probably what’s keeping him from recognizing the truly sexist nature of his comments. At the very least, that privilege is undoubtedly what’s keeping him from apologizing for them.

image courtesy of here


Sydnie Jones